Here we hear from Luke Combs, a North Carolina-born country singer who has been enjoying a meteoric rise to country success on Pandora. In this interview he speaks about his music and how he has adapted to his rapid rise up the charts.
Guest Post by Emily Blake on Next Big Sound
Luke Combs has had a whirlwind of a year. Scratch that: It’s been a downright Hurricane.
Right around this time last year, the North Carolina-born country singer wouldn’t be surprised if he performed in front of a 100-person crowd. After all, it hadn’t been that long since he had graduated from Appalachian State University, where he thought about becoming a homicide detective before trying out the whole music thing.
But a lot’s changed since then. In the past 365 days, he gained well over half of his 32,400 Twitter followers. He also racked up around 2.5 million YouTube views, a big jump from the previous year’s total of right around 1 million. And over the past three months, Combs has been averaging well over 500 Artist Station Adds every day on Pandora.
Now, he is among the names of Pandora’s Country Artists to Watch for 2017 and has been a mainstay on the Pandora Trendsetters Chart, which ranks the 20 up-and-coming artists with the highest number of Artist Station Adds on the service. Earlier this month, his breakout hit, Hurricane, debuted on the Top Spins Chart, climbing to #86 this week and showing no signs of slowing down.
When Combs stopped by Pandora recently, he performed tracks old and new — as well as an all-too-brief cover of Gnarls Barkley’s Crazy — and talked to Next Big Sound about his journey over the past year. Next up, he’ll hit the road with Brantley Gilbert on his Devil Don’t Sleep Tour, which will include performances at arenas like the Ford Center and — capacities 10,000 and 18,500, respectively.
You’ve gone from playing more intimate shows to now, playing arenas with Brantley Gilbert. What’s it like adjusting to that?
We’re still playing the same venues that we were a year ago, it’s just now they may be sold out months in advance instead of only seeing a hundred people there. But performance wise it’s pretty much been the same, thought it’s been a little easier when you have the energy of a show that’s sold out. You can just go onstage and don’t have to worry if people would be there. We give 100 percent whether its 10 people or 10,000 people, but it’s a lot easier when you know it’s going to be a big crowd, and people are loud and singing along.
You’re releasing new music this summer. What can fans expect?
Not too much has changed. I’ve been working with the same folks I did on the first album, only sometimes we’ll add another person in who’s had proven success. The sound will be similar and hopefully they’ll all be songs that I write, because that’s how I enjoy doing it. I want writing for me to be a fun thing. I don’t really feel the pressure to have another “big song.” It’s easier to just write what feels good that day. I’m not chasing any particular sounds.
You’ve been seeing a lot of Artist Station Adds on Pandora over the last few months. What are your favorite Artist Stations?
I was discovering new artists on Pandora, that’s how I discovered a lot of the artists that I listen to now all the time. It’s cool to know it’s a medium where not only people can find me but they can find other stuff similar to what I’m doing… I loved Blink-182 growing up so I have their station that I listen to. Elton John and Billy Joel too. I love John Legend. And of course as far as country stations go, anything from Jon Pardi to Alan Jackson, anybody in the 90s, like Clint Black. But my musical taste is far reaching. My parents listened to everything growing up so there’s not much I won’t listen to.